Woodland joined IBM in 1951 hoping to develop the bar code, but the technology wasn't accepted for more than two decades until lasers made it possible to read the code readily, the technology company said. In the early 1970s, Woodland moved to Raleigh to join a team at IBM's Research Triangle Park, N.C., facility. The team developed a bar-code-reading laser scanner system in response to demand from grocers' desires to automate and speed checkout while also cutting handling and inventory management costs.
IBM promoted a rectangular barcode that led to a standard for universal product code technology. The first product sold using a UPC scan was a 67-cent package of Wrigley's chewing gum at a supermarket in Troy, Ohio, in June 1974, according to GS1 US, the American affiliate of the global standard-setting UPC body.
Today, about 5 billion products are scanned and tracked worldwide every day, including sale items, airline boarding passes, military equipment, hospital patients, livestock, and highway toll customers, GS1 US says.
Woodland was born Sept 6, 1921, in Atlantic City, N.J.
Woodland and Microsoft founder Bill Gates were among those honored at the White House in 1992 for their achievements to technology, four months after President George H.W. Bush appeared amazed at a demonstration of a grocery checkout machine.